Online checking accounts have all of the features of a traditional, physical checking account. In addition, online checking accounts allow individuals to manage their account balance through an Internet connection rather than going to a physical bank location. Deposits, withdrawals and balance transfers are all accessed through a computer. Thus, online checking accounts can save an individual time. Some online banks require a specific deposit amount to open a checking account. Save money by locating an online bank that doesn't require a deposit.
Determine what features you need in your online checking account. Some online checking accounts allow the account holder to earn interest on any money deposited. However, these may require you to maintain a balance of a set amount, though the earning potential makes such effort worthwhile. Also, decide how you plan on accessing the money in the checking account. Some online banks allow you to withdraw money from any ATM, while other banks require you to use ATMs from their own network. It is best to use an online checking account that does not charge an ATM fee. Some of the larger online banks refund any ATM fees you may incur when using an ATM from another financial institution.
Research your online banking options. There are dozens of online-only banks, as well as traditional banks that offer online services. Start by asking your current, non-Internet bank if it offers an online checking service. It is often easier to work with a local financial institution if an account problem ever arises. A drawback is that local banks typically don't offer a full range of online services. Some of the most popular online banks with no-deposit checking accounts include HSBC Direct and ING USA (See Resources).Check Bankrate to view a complete, current list of online checking account services with the ability to sort the list by various criteria.
Make a list of 3 to 4 online banks that meet your specifications in terms of services offered. Contact each bank to learn whether they charge a monthly checking fee or deposit, as well as whether they impose any other limitations or fees on an online account. Such minor fees and charges can quickly add up, eating away at your checking account savings. Bankrate (listed in the Resources section) lists whether a bank requires a deposit, which makes sorting your options much easier.
Pick the online bank that provides a checking account and offers the features you want with a minimum amount of fees and charges. Most large Internet banks don't charge any fees.
Start your application to open an online checking account. Generally, the entire process is carried out through the financial institution's Website. Sometimes, an online banking application can be requested in paper form from the bank. However, apply online to save on postage and processing time.
Check that the online application is transmitted through a secure Internet connection. Look for a padlock icon in your browser's menu bar to signify that the connection is encrypted.
Submit your application. You will need your Social Security Number (SSN) in order for the bank to verify your identity.
Connect your online checking account with your current bank after your application has been approved. This lets you wirelessly transfer money from your first bank to your new account. You may accomplish this through your online banking account's Website, or by calling the online bank. You will need your traditional bank's routing number, which is located on the bottom of all of your paper checks.
Request an ATM card and paper checks from your new bank. These may be provided upon completion and approval of your application, depending on the financial institution.
Check that the Internet bank is FDIC-insured to protect your savings.